Ricardo Arrillaga | Pasco County Real Estate, Hillsborough Real Estate, Pinellas Real Estate


If you live a busy work and home life, finding time to cook nutritious and filling meals can be difficult. As a result, many people find themselves ordering out for lunch during the work week and settling for low-effort dinners during the week.

One economical and time-saving solution to this problem is meal prep. You pick one day during the week, usually Sunday, and devote an hour or two to preparing meals for the week.

Not only does it take away the concern of not knowing what to cook for dinner each night, but it also helps you save a ton of money while eating healthy.

In this article, we’re going to give you some tips for preparing your meals in bulk, and a few examples of meals that are easily prepared at home in advance.

Expert advice on meal prepping

One of the first issues people face when they start prepping meals is storage. Our best advice is to look for rugged, microwavable and freezable containers.

It’s good to have a variety of sizes, but if you have stray pieces to sets of Tupperware it can make it difficult to find the right sizes. So, we suggest starting from scratch and buying a set of three-compartment and a set one-compartment containers.

Find out the volume of the containers you buy. Doing so will help you keep track of the portions of your meals and make it easier to prepare the right amount to avoid waste.

Planning meals

Many poor eating decisions happen when you’re in a pinch and need to come up with something quickly. It can seem like the cheapest option at the moment is to stop at a fast food restaurant, but you can likely prepare 3 or 4 meals for the price of one trip to the drive-through.

The key is proper planning. Sit down and make your menu for the week. An easy way to start is to think about your favorite lunch items and figure out how you can make them in bulk.

Make sure your shopping list reflects the portions you need to buy, and you’re good to head to the store.

Once you’re home and have started cooking, remember that you needn’t freeze all of your meals. Refrigerate items that you’ll eat over the next 2-3 days and freeze the rest. If you’re worried about losing your meals in your crowded freezer and finding them months from now, use some masking tape to label and date them.

Easy meals to prepare in advance

You can usually find a way to prepare most meals in advance. However, some are easier than others. A good place to start is with rice and grain bowls and stir fries. These tend to be cheap (around $1.50 per serving) and simple to prepare. To add protein, you can include boiled eggs, beans, chicken or beef.

Along the same line, make some brown rice and stir fry black beans, peppers, and onions. Add your favorite southwest seasonings, and buy a large bag of tortilla chips. You can scoop the rice and beans onto your chips for a nutritious and cheap lunch.

For dinner items, you can make your favorites like shepherd’s pie or lasagna in advance and slice and freeze them in portions.


Framed photographs have helped transform your ordinary house into a comfortable home. However, if you recently bought or sold a home, you may need to pack up these photographs and take them to a new address in the near future.

Lucky for you, we're here to provide expert insights into how to safely and quickly pack your framed photographs prior to moving day.

Now, let's take a look at three best practice for packing framed photographs.

1. Choose the Right Packing Material

The right packing material for a framed photograph usually varies based on the size of the photograph itself.

For example, if you're packing a small framed photograph, you may want to use a small moving box. Pack the box with bubble wrap or packing paper as well to fully secure the photograph during transit.

If you need to move large framed photographs, you may want to pick up specialty boxes. These boxes can be purchased from a moving supply store and will make it easy for you to protect your photographs as they go from Point A to Point B.

2. Wrap the Picture and Frame

When it comes to protecting framed photographs, packing paper is ideal. If you wrap the photograph with the frame glass-side down against the paper, you can reduce the risk of damage.

For those who decide to pack multiple small framed photographs in the same box, it often pays to individually wrap each photograph in packing paper. That way, you can keep various framed photographs together and prevent them from getting damaged.

Also, use packing tape all the way around a photograph frame. This will help you keep all packing paper in place around the frame and photograph.

3. Use Caution When Placing Framed Photographs in a Moving Truck

A framed photograph will absorb pressure more easily on its edge than lying flat. Thus, a framed photograph should be placed on its side – not flat – in a moving truck.

Furthermore, when you pack a moving truck, you should always place framed photographs in a spot where they won't move or fall over. You may even be able to wedge framed photographs between heavy objects to keep these photographs in place in a moving truck.

If you need additional assistance as you pack your framed photographs or other belongings, you may want to hire a professional moving company. With this business at your side, you can receive comprehensive support as you prep for moving day.

Lastly, a real estate agent can help you enjoy a seamless transition from one address to another. In addition to helping you map out the home selling or homebuying journey, a real estate agent can put you in touch with the best moving companies in your area.

Simplify the process of packing your framed photographs – use the aforementioned best practices, and you can quickly and effortlessly get your framed photographs ready for an upcoming move.


The real estate market can be tough to navigate, especially if you want to obtain the best price for your house. Fortunately, we're here to help you analyze the housing sector and make informed decisions as you sell your residence.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you review the real estate market before you list your home.

1. Assess Housing Market Data

Learn about the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own residence. That way, you can establish a price range for your house.

Furthermore, it often is beneficial to check out the prices of recently sold residences in your area. This real estate market data will enable you to see how quickly houses are available before they sell. As such, this information may help you differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market.

2. Conduct a House Inspection

A home inspection generally is reserved for buyers who request an inspection after a property seller accepts an offer to purchase. However, taking a proactive approach to a home inspection may go a long way toward helping you distinguish your residence from others in a competitive housing market.

During a home inspection, a property expert will examine your residence both inside and outside. This property expert then will offer an inspection report that details his or her findings. And once you have this report, you can prioritize home repairs.

Ultimately, a home inspection may help you take an objective view of your residence. After you conduct an inspection, you can complete home repairs that may help you boost your house's value as well.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you are struggling to understand how the housing market works, there is no need to worry. In fact, you can collaborate with a real estate agent and receive housing market insights that you may struggle to obtain elsewhere.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and help you map out a home selling strategy. This plan will account for the age and condition of your home, your home selling goals and the current state of the real estate market. As a result, your home selling strategy will enable you to achieve the optimal results at each stage of the home selling journey.

Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent will provide as you navigate the home selling journey, either. A real estate agent will set up home showings and open house events to promote your residence to prospective buyers. Also, if you receive an offer to purchase your residence, a real estate agent will help you review this proposal and determine the best course of action.

Perform a deep analysis of the housing market before you list your residence – you'll be happy you did. By reviewing the real estate sector, you can find unique ways to ensure your house stands out to potential buyers and accelerate the home selling journey.


Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Before you list your residence, it helps to take plenty of high-quality photos both inside and outside your home.

Ultimately, home photos can make or break a homebuyer's first impression of your residence.

For example, if your home listing includes photos that show off the true beauty of your house, a homebuyer may want to check out your residence in-person. Or, if home photos make your house look small and cluttered, a homebuyer may shy away from your residence altogether.

Don't let bad photos affect your ability to sell your house.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get your house ready for a photo session.

1. Clean Your Residence

A beautiful home is likely to stand out to homebuyers. Meanwhile, if you clean your residence from top to bottom, you can get your house photo-ready in no time at all.

Mop the floors, wipe down the walls and ceilings and perform assorted home interior cleaning. Also, don't forget to mow the front lawn and complete various home exterior improvements.

If you need help with home cleaning tasks, you should contact a professional home cleaning company. With a professional home cleaning company at your side, you can receive expert support as you prep your residence for a photo session.

2. Declutter As Much As Possible

Although your home may be filled with assorted artwork, antiques and photographs, now may prove to be the best time to declutter as much as possible.

Too much clutter can make your house appear tiny. However, if you dedicate the necessary time and resources to declutter your house, you can show homebuyers the true size of your house.

If necessary, you can rent a storage unit to hold your excess items. Moreover, you can always reach out to family members and friends to see if they can store your excess items in their residences until you find a new place to live.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to real estate photography, it pays to work with a housing market professional. Lucky for you, many real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide who can help you get your house ready for the real estate market.

A real estate agent can assess your residence and offer recommendations to help you improve your house's appearance. Plus, he or she can put you in touch with the best professional real estate photographers in your area.

Let's not forget about the support that a real estate agent can provide throughout the home selling journey too. A real estate agent is happy to set up home showings and open houses, negotiate with homebuyers on your behalf and do everything possible to help you maximize the value of your residence.

Use the aforementioned tips to get your house ready for a photo session – you'll be glad you did. Thanks to these tips, you can move one step closer to getting the best results from the home selling journey.


If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might be wondering what all of the expenses you can expect to have when it comes time to close on your home.

Ideally, you’ll want to understand all of the closing costs months in advance so that you can plan accordingly. However, even if you’re close to purchasing your first home, it’s still useful to get to know closing costs better.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover the closing costs that are typically the buyer’s responsibility.

Buyer’s closing costs

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to closing costs for buyers. The bad news is that buyers are typically on the hook for the majority of the closing costs associated with a real estate transaction. The good news, however, is that many of these fees will be grouped together as part of your mortgage, meaning you won’t have to devote much time or thought to them individually.

That being said, to ensure that you know where your money is going, here’s a breakdown of the main closing costs that you’ll likely be responsible for as a buyer:

1. Attorney fees

Real estate attorneys research the ownership of the home, ensuring that the seller actually has the right to sell you the property. Though this is usually a formality, it is an important one.

Attorneys can either charge a flat fee or hourly rate.

2. Origination fees

The origination fee is paid upfront to the lender. It’s the fee that they charge for processing your mortgage application and getting you approved as a borrower.

3. Prepaid interest

Many buyers pay their first month’s interest in advance. This is the amount of interest that will accrue from the time you purchase the home until your first mortgage payment is due (a month later).

4. Home inspection

Inspections are one of the closing costs that can save you a ton of money in the long run if they find anything during their visit to the home. Inspectors should be licensed in your state, and you should choose your own inspector based on ratings and reviews (not at the recommendation of someone who is incentivized to sell you the home such).

5. Escrow deposits

Escrow deposits are typically shared between the buyer and seller and it is the fee that escrow agents charge for their services. You can think of an escrow as a neutral third party that keeps your money safe while purchasing a home.

6. Recording fees

All real estate purchases have to be recorded by the local government. Typically, this is performed by the county or town hall. Recording fees are charged whenever a real estate transaction occurs.

7. Underwriting fees

Mortgages are all about determining risk. A lender wants to know whether they will see a return on their investment by lending to you. To do so, they research your credit and income history. The fee the charge for this work is called the underwriting fee.